Intergen has already been working with the new version of SharePoint for over six months as part of the early beta programs. This means we’ve already seen it in action in an enterprise setting and can advise you on the best way to move forward with this new technology.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts covering the main capability areas of the new SharePoint. In this post we provide a quick summary of the key improvements and their benefits. Feel free to contact us for a more details or to discuss and demo in person.
Social for the Enterprise
Compared with SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010 took a big step forward in the Social space, with rich My Sites and some micro-blogging capabilities. The new version of SharePoint goes well beyond 2010 and brings the capabilities of Yammer, Twitter and Linked-In to the enterprise space. The main benefits of these capabilities are information sharing and connectivity between staff in order to reduce silos and speed up knowledge transfer. Key capabilities of Social include:
- Rich micro-blogging with @ and # tags and replies allowing staff to quickly communicate with a small or broad audience.
- A full activity feed allowing users to see all activity in one place and stay in the loop on key events or communications.
- The ability for users to follow people, sites, tags and documents and get updates in their activity feed.
- New Community Sites (think fully-featured discussion boards) with experts, badges and reputation points. Perfect for special interest groups, new staff or general communications and collaboration.
- A richer people search with contact card previews and filtering making it much easier to find staff.
My Site Newsfeed
The new version of SharePoint is almost exclusively written in HTML 5 with planned full support for Safari on the iPad. Users can browse, contribute and edit documents directly from iPads. There is also a new Channels capability which allows easy mapping of pages and web parts to devices allowing the experience to be tailored for different devices.
The vast majority of organisations have iPads in their ecosystem and are considering mobile experiences for web content. These capabilities are a huge benefit for mobile access and eliminate the need for complex development and third party apps in a number of cases. We think that native iOS support will be a key driver for organisations considering moving quickly to upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to the new version.
SharePoint on the iPad
With so many versions to choose from – Foundation, Standard, Express, FAST – search has always been challenging to understand. Now there is only one version of search, and it is amazing! The best capabilities of all products have been combined into one. Think search suggestions, document previews, continuous crawl, recommendations, social distance ranking, deep refinement, auto identification of company names, advanced analytics, even more integration, easy customisation and you are getting close to what the new search provides.
What does all this mean? A highly engaging search experience for end users that provides the fastest, most accurate results ever seen in SharePoint.
SharePoint Search Experience
Accessing knowledge and collaborating have been cornerstones of SharePoint since 2001. There are a number of improvements in this space which take SharePoint to the next level:
- Users have a folder on their desktop which syncs directly to their My Site. Companies can do away with personal drives and make it easy for staff to store documents within their own space, conforming to templates and enterprise metadata. This is Dropbox level simplicity with the full rich enterprise level control at the back end.
- A new area in My Sites rolls up a user’s tasks across the entire SharePoint environment as well as Project Server and Exchange. This creates a one-stop-shop for users instead of going to tasks lists across the platform. Huge productivity boost!
- There are a number of general user interface improvements such as easy list creation, searching and editing and drag and drop document uploading. You’ll be surprised at how much easier SharePoint is to use and user adoption and training will benefit from these improvements.
- A new Share feature allows users to easily share sites and content with each other rather than dealing with complex permissions.
- There a number of new and well-designed collaboration templates available for use and we’ll be covering these in a later blog post as they deliver great value from SharePoint straight out of the box.
- Access Services has been completely rebuilt and now exists as a stand-alone solution, separate from SharePoint. Access has far more capabilities now than in 2010 for rich forms and reports. Intergen as a company was founded in the era of Microsoft Access applications; we’ll have a special blog post in the next few weeks covering Microsoft Access and Access Services in some detail. If you’re an Enterprise that thinks ‘Access’ is a dirty word then we hope to change your mind for the better!
Sharepoint - All new Access Services
The App Store
Apps are here in a big way and Microsoft has fully embraced this concept. The new version of SharePoint provides a full-featured enterprise app store allowing staff to access company built, purchased or externally available applications. There are lots of options to control how this works, but essentially you can think of the app store as a highly organised and controlled way to manage add-on features which business areas might want to leverage.
SharePoint new App Store
SharePoint 2010 provided some great functionality for intranet, extranet and public facing websites. The capabilities in the new version have raised the bar and positioned SharePoint well and truly as a leader in the web content management space.
- A new Product Catalogue capability allows site navigation to be defined using metadata. Product pages then aggregate content from a number of sources onto the page using the new Content by Search web part. This powerful capability allows eCommerce and knowledge-based sites to be quickly developed and to adapt over time as product categories and taxonomy changes. Site collection boundaries are no longer an issue for publishing content!
- Digital asset management has greatly improved with much better handling of images and video. For example you can select the thumbnail used for a video just through the browser, display YouTube videos and manage multiple renditions of digital assets.
- Search Engine Optimisation has been implemented with friendly URLs and auto sitemap generation.
- A new Design Manager puts all the branding aspects of the site in one place with the ability to import non-SharePoint HTML from a designer and apply to a site and a much simpler theming engine. Designs can also be easily exported and imported. Overall these capabilities make designing websites much easier.
Product Catalogue metadata driven web website
And much more!
There are many, many more exciting capabilities to talk about in the new version of SharePoint. We haven’t even covered full support for running 2010 sites to allow easy migration, improvements in eDiscovery allowing full search across SharePoint and Exchange with export capabilities, or the fact that versioning now stores only the differences instead of the full document each time.
Stay tuned for the next in-depth blog post – Social!